An attempt to explore a shaft in the Pyramid of Khufu, one of the ancient seven wonders of the world, has stymied archeologists and once again they turn to robots for help.
There are two main large chambers inside the pyramid, one for the queen and one for the king. In the king’s chamber two 45 degree angle shafts lead to the outside walls of the pyramid. In the queen’s chamber, there are two similar 45 degree angle shafts, but they do not lead outside. Both of these shafts are blocked by doors. A robot will be used to examine and possibly drill a hole in these doors.
The expedition is called Djedi, after a magician Khufu consulted when building the pyramid and led by Zahi Hawass, an Egyptian archeologist. The robotic team consists of people from the University of Leeds in England and Dassault Systemes in France.
The robot will have the following properties:
Micro “snake camera” that can fit through small spaces and see round corners like an endoscope· A miniaturised ultrasonic device that can tap on walls and listen to the response to help determine the thickness and condition of the stone· A miniature ‘beetle’ robot that can fit through a hole 20mm diameter for further exploration in confined spaces· Precision compass and inclinometer to measure the orientation of the shafts· A coring drill that can penetrate the second blocking stone (if necessary and feasible) while removing the minimum amount of material necessary